Throughout its history Kirkdale School was subject to inspection by the Department of Education.
There were also inspections carried out by the Fire Brigade.
‘Risk’ and ‘Health and safety’ were not assessed in the way they are now in the 21st century.
The first DoE inspection is memorable for two occurrences.
John Powlesland took the inspector of a tour of the school. During the tour the two men talked. “What is the average reading age of the children?” asked the inspector. John said that he had paused for a moment, and that as he had no idea, plucked a number out of the air, answering …”Oh….about six I would say”. The inspector appeared more than happy with this response.
[ Cate and I later worked out that this was a pretty close approximation to a ‘true’ average reading age given that there were only about eight of us in the school and at least two had advanced reading ages].
The inspector and John moved on round the school and arrived at the Bees just as Anne-Marie, a member of staff, hitched up her skirts and ran though the Bee paddling pool. Suddenly noticing the two men she became embarrassed and said “Sorry!” She reported that the inspector had a large grin on his face and replied “That’s alright my dear!”
The inspection ended with the inspector wishing John “good luck”.
Sadly the inspections that followed were far less relaxed in nature and the reports were often quite critical.
Separately there was an early fire safety inspection. Oliver Elphick observed that while it was necessary to follow the requirements that followed fire safety inspection (which included installing a fire alarm and building a fire escape from the bees etc),..”. we all knew that in the event of a fire the children would just go out the windows!” (See also ‘The Occupancy’)
An example of a DoE inspection report on the school is attached. Also attached are some notes on that report.
Kirkdale School Inspection Report 1974
Notes on Department for Education and Science Inspection Report June of 1974. 1